Over the past few years during this historic Warriors run, the team has enjoyed a deafening home-court advantage in Oracle Arena. However, this season, the last season at Oracle has not gone according to plan. The Warriors have lost 10 games at home this season, at 24-10.
It is not just this season the defending champs are struggling to defend home court. Last campaign, the Warriors went 29-12, the same record they had on the road. In Kevin Durant‘s debut season as a Warrior, the team went 36-5 at Oracle. However, any of those home records are a far cry from the 39-2 home defense the Warriors had in their first championship back in 2014-2015 and in 2015-2016 when they went 73-9.
This begs the question: what has happened to the Oracle Arena home-court advantage?
Well, there are a few variables that could be at play here.
For starters, since Kevin Durant’s arrival (and now DeMarcus Cousins), the team has become more and more reliant on their talent alone, rather than playing with the necessary and sufficient effort it takes to win an NBA game at home. This was not more evident than their shocking loss to the lowly Phoenix Suns on Sunday night.
Sharpshooting guard Klay Thompson went as far to say that the crowd was not engaged enough for big plays.
“I know it’s not the playoffs. But it is our last go around at Oracle. Stand up or something when we make a play,” Thompson said after the Warriors disappointing loss to Phoenix at home. “We need that energy, especially this time of year. It’s hard to conjure up energy every single night because you’re looking forward to the playoffs in that run. So we expect our fans to kind of bring that from the jump.”
Head coach Steve Kerr did not agree with Thompson’s comments about the fans not providing the energy necessary, but understood where the five-time all star was coming from as he told the media on Monday.
“I think I understood what he was talking about,” Kerr said on Monday at the Warriors practice facility. “When you play well, when you play with great energy and a great pace and spirit, fans are going to be naturally more excited.”
The Warriors home losses are starting to pile up —and that’s not a good thing for a team that has championship aspirations for the third consecutive season. Home-court advantage is supposed to a variable that should not be looked as a weakness for opponents to exploit, but unfortunately, that’s what Oracle has suddenly become.
Another possibility as the Warriors have fallen off at home is because of the ticket prices to let fans who are die-hard fans come to watch their team play. Unfortunately, for fans, however, ticket prices have only increased. In fact, at the beginning of this season, ticket prices to Warriors games were at $463, and just a couple of months ago, by January 14, they skyrocketed to $522, according to TicketIQ.com.
To put it in perspective, the U.S. median household income in 2018 was $59,039. Santa Clara County, the highest median household income in the Bay Area in 2018, according to Bay Area Market Reports was $114,610. If Warriors tickets cost $522 currently, there are not many people who would be willing to pay that much for tickets because of the other necessities and values that life holds.
Despite those astronomical ticket prices, fans come out to support their team. On the season, the Warriors rank sixth in the league in attendance, with an average of 19,596 fans attending the contests. The percentage in attendance is 100 percent. Oracle still sells out every home game, but the Warriors have laid some eggs at home against Toronto and Celtics, to name a few.
In the past, during this run, the Warriors have ranked seventh, eighth, seventh and seventh in home attendance. This Warriors season is the highest ranked attendance they have had during this championship run throughout the past four seasons.
It is the last campaign at Oracle and the Warriors have given opponents the desperate sliver of hope to be able to beat them in a seven-game series by dropping these crucial home games and have not given fans the consistent winning experience that many have hoped for in the last season in Oakland.
Kerr even said it himself in Monday’s media availability, while giving the fans credit that a large part of the Warriors’ success is because of the fans.
“We really thrive on the energy at Oracle. The fans have helped us win at a high level, and we need them and we’ve got to give them more to cheer about,” Kerr said.
The fear factor at Oracle is gone. The Warriors need to rediscover the “Roaracle” magic as their quest for a three-peat becomes more daunting and before the inevitable move to the Chase Center in San Francisco.